Maldives ex-president regains consciousness after bomb attack

Police announce two arrests over terror attack targeting Mohamed Nasheed

Police secure the site in Male where a bomb blast injured former Maldives president and current parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed on May 6. AFP
Police secure the site in Male where a bomb blast injured former Maldives president and current parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed on May 6. AFP

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed is conscious after life-saving surgery, his family said on Saturday, as police made two arrests in connection with the bomb blast that left him critically injured.

The bomb went off as Mr Nasheed, the president of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party and the current parliament speaker, was leaving his family home in the capital Male on Thursday.

Police said they had arrested two people in connection with the blast, which they said was being treated as a terror attack, but gave no further details.

Mr Nasheed, 53, underwent 16 hours of surgery to remove shrapnel from his lungs, liver, chest, abdomen and limbs.

"I'm good," he said after coming off life support, according to a tweet by his sister Nashida Sattar.

His brother, Ibrahim Nashid, said doctors were happy with Mr Nasheed's recovery.

"He is out of life support and breathing on his own," he said in a tweet. "Managed to exchange a few words. Promised to come back stronger. I believe him."

In its first report on the attempted assassination, the Maldives National Defence Force said a home-made bomb was used.

"The improvised explosive device was triggered using a remote control," an official told reporters in Male.

Environmental activist Mohamed Nasheed presents a lecture on climate change in New Delhi, India, in 2019. AP Photo
Environmental activist Mohamed Nasheed presents a lecture on climate change in New Delhi, India, in 2019. AP Photo

The Maldives is expecting Australian Federal Police officers to join the investigation on Saturday, plus two experts from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih thanked Mr Nasheed's medical team and said he prayed for his "quick recovery and return – stronger and steadier than ever".

Mr Nasheed is a democracy pioneer in the Maldives who ended decades of one-party rule in the Indian Ocean archipelago and became its first democratically elected president in 2008.

He is also known internationally as a champion for battling climate change and rising sea levels that he says threaten to submerge the nation of 1,192 tiny coral islands.

He was barred from contesting a 2018 presidential election because of a terrorism conviction, after he was toppled in a military-backed coup in February 2012.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared the conviction politically motivated.

He returned from exile in Britain, however, and his party won legislative elections in 2019 and he is now parliament speaker, the country's second most powerful post.

Mr Nasheed was injured when a bomb rigged to a parked motorcycle went off as he was walking to his car. Two other people were also hurt.

There has been no claim of responsibility, but his party alleged that political interests may have been involved.

Mr Nasheed had been vocal on the need to prosecute about 72 suspects in a $90 million theft case dating from the tenure of former president Abdulla Yameen, who was in office from 2013 to 2018.

Updated: May 8, 2021 01:27 PM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read